Al Qaeda member surrenders, Saudi Arabia says

Laura Rozen
May 4, 2011

In the wake of Osama bin Laden's demise, is al Qaeda falling apart?

The Saudi Interior Ministry said today that a senior al Qaeda member on Riyadh's most-wanted list named Khaled al-Qahtani called from abroad and turned himself in.

"Interior Ministry's spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki said in a statement Wednesday that Khaled Hathal Abdullah al-Atifi al-Qahtani contacted the security authorities from an undisclosed country and expressed his wish to come home," the Associated Press reports.

"Al-Qahtani was reunited with his family and his surrender will be taken into consideration while looking into his case, Al-Turki said."

The Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman did not indicate when Khaled al-Qahtani gave himself up, but many members of the group's Yemeni wing, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), have recently fled from Yemen, the AP writes.

It wasn't immediately possible to ascertain whether Khaled Al-Qahtani is the brother or relative of Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi-born al Qaeda militant detained at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mohammed al-Qahtani, now 32, had been picked up in the battle of Tora Bora in Afghanistan from which bin Laden is believed to have escaped.

UPDATE: The two men are not brothers, Gregory Johnson, a Yemen expert with Princeton University, told the Envoy:

"Al-Qahtani is a common Saudi name and there are many individuals in AQAP with that name...They may be related in some other more distant way."